BY EMILY GUEVARA
The sounds of "woah" and "oh my" escaped from the mouths of children as they watched in awe.
Korn Pop the Klown had stuck a large needle-like object through a balloon without popping it, much to the surprise of the 70 kids in the room.
Then, with one prick he popped the white balloon, sending 9-year-old Conner Mireles falling to the ground in shock. However, he quickly recovered.
Moments later, Korn Pop pulled what appeared to be small red lights out of thin air drawing children into his magical world as they caught the lights and threw them back.
"How many of you like to read?" he said. "That's where I learned how to do my magic and balloons."
His act was all part of the kick off for the Tyler Public Library's Summer Reading Club.
The reading club, which started Monday, is open to children, teenagers and adults.
This year's goal calls for participants to read or have someone read aloud to them for 12 hours by July 24. That amounts to 16 minutes a day for 45 days.
Those who complete the goal and turn in their reading logs to the library by the deadline can choose a book from the Dig Into Reading Cart or the Book Nook.
They also will have their name entered for a chance to win a prize. The raffle drawing will be on July 26.
Youth services librarian Linda Gray said her goal for the program is to reach out to nonreaders in the community, which is why she lowered the reading time goal. It used to be 20 hours.
Although the 12 hours might not be as challenging to some participants, if it brings in more people, it's worth it, she said.
Misty Walker was among the parents who brought children to the event. Ms. Walker, 36, of Tyler, a licensed vocational nurse, said her 6-year-old daughter Jayla loves to read.
"This is a good way to keep (children) active during the summer months," she said.
Charl Rae Cobb, of Tyler, brought her son, Aaron, 7, because he likes magic and wanted to see the clown. He had been reading about the science of magic. He also planned to participate in the reading club.
Sanoussy Comde, 32, already had books in hand. The Tyler resident brought his children, Cheick, 7, and Amina, 6. Amina said she likes to read about fairies and Cheick said he likes to read the Captain Underpants books.
Comde said reading is good for the children because English is their second language. They speak French at home.
"It's an awesome program," Comde, who is originally from Guinea in West Africa, said. "It helps them be more fluent."